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Saturday, July 7, 2001

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The Erie Canal

I ran errands this morning since I thought it would be too hot by the afternoon but in the afternoon it clouded over and rained making it cooler in the afternoon. By that time I was back from the library and reading so I just listened to the rain. I thought of going for a walk but, caught between a cooler walk and reading, I chose reading. It was nice listening to the rain.

I finished "The Songcatcher" by Sharyn McCrumb. This is one of her appalachian stories/mysteries. She uses her own family history for part of the story and weaves it into a story about heritage and the folksongs that have ended up in the appalachians, leaving such a rich history for all of us. She writes a nice variety of books, most of them based on the appalachians, but they cover the gamut from humorous mysteries to stories that seem to rise out of the mists of the mountains.

I also read "Helen Hath No Fury" by Gillian Roberts. Amanda Pepper, a school teacher at a prep school get's involved in why a member of her book group committed suicide. With the help of other members of the group and her boyfriend, a detective, she nearly gets hersef killed while solving what turns out to be a murder and two other attempted murders. I enjoyed it very much though I am always amazed at how the intelligent people in mysteries always act so stupidly when they know there is someone out there who has no problem with killing people.

I listened to a documentary on the Erie Canal today. It seems that in the 19th century many people, such as Nathanial Hawthorne considered it to be an environmental disaster as it "ruined" the pristine wilderness and many people thought it was wrong because it helped people and goods move too fast. When people first moved out of the caves I'm sure there were people who felt the same.

The Erie Canal was a fantastic achievement and success. In fact it's success caused problems as it immediately became too crowded even through three upgrades. I was interested in learning that the feet the water was raised and the distance of the Erie Canal was even greater than the Panama Canal and several hundred people died of malaria while digging through the swamps in New York. Even now modern highways and the trains follow the path of the Erie Canal. I stopped to see the part of the canal that is still navagable in 1995. People now use it more for recreation and tourism but it still works.

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Rachel Aschmann 2001.
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